Rule changes in various Formula series meant that cars from one year were not permitted to compete in the next year. This was done to keep the sport interesting by not allowing a dominate car to continue to win year after year. This also meant that teams had to build new race cars for each new year. The cost required in order to compete elevated and caused many privateers unable to compete.
From 1967 through 1971, Formula 2 regulations stated that engine capacity could be no larger than 1600cc. Another change to the rules in 1970 left most cars requiring extensive modifications. The change, bag-type fuel tanks protected by metal sheathing, was similar to the one made to Formula One cars.
This left the Lotus Type 59 F2 car requiring major modifications before it qualified for competition. Dave Baldwin, who had designed the 59, made the modifications by adapting a central monocoque section which contained the fuel bags. The design remained mostly unchanged; there were suspension modifications and changes to the frontal area of the car to allow for a lower intake for the radiator. Mounted behind the driver was a Cosworth FVA 1600cc engine which was matted to a Hewland FT200 transaxle.
For the 1970 season, the Type 59 was raced by drivers such as Jochen Rindt, Graham hill, and John Miles. Rindt had enjoyed success in Grand Prix racing so he was considered a FIA graded driver. This meant he was ineligible to win points in the European F2 Championship. So even when Rindt drove his car to victory in the first Championship race, he was unable to collect the points. Fittipaldi finished well in most of the Championship races though he did not win a single race. He finished third in points. In 1971 he would continue to race the 69 and achieved wins at Madrid, Crystal Palace and Albi.
In 1971, in 2-liter Formula 3 competition, the works Lotus 69 was driven by Dave Walker to 25 victories out of 32 races.
In later years, as rules changed, so did many of the machines. When the engine capacity limit was raised to 2000cc, many 69s, such as Fittipaldi's, was fitted with a 1930cc Cosworth BDA engine. Lotus Racing also built the 69 to conform with Formula 3 and Formula A specifications. In this guise the car had a space-frame chassis.
The Lotus 69F version was made to conform with Formula Ford regulations. It had a space-frame chassis, modified front nose, and narrow wheels. Formula Ford cars were generally powered by the Ford/Lotus Twin Cam engines.
In total, there were 57 examples of the Type 69 constructed. Along with the 70, these were the last production racing cars to be constructed by Lotus, as Chapman made the decision to resign from competition. The decision had been made due to the major increase in competition and concerns about product liability. By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2007
Between the early 1960s until the early 1970s, Lotus cars won seven Formula One Constructors' World Championship titles and even won the 1965 Indianapolis 500. Their single-seat formula cars were very competition in Junior, Ford, Formula 2, and 3 competition. The Lotus cars were driven by legends including Jim Clark, Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jack Brabham, Sir Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill, Mario Andretti, Emerson Fittipalid and Jochen Rindt.
Peter Arundell drove a Type 22 in Formula Junior competition to 18 victories from 25 starts. In a Formula 3 Lotus Type 69, the Australian Dave Walker won 25 times from 32 starts.
The Lotus 69 was another brilliant Lotus design by engineer Dave Baldwin and in Formula 2 guise it would be most closely associated with eventual Formula 1 Champions Jochen Rindt and Emerson Fittipaldi. In a Formula Ford Lotus 69 driver Mo Harness took the Johnson Wax Euro Trophy Championship for the Jim Russell team.
This Type 69 was acquired by the current owner in race-worn condition, less motor. A professional restoration was performed and a new motor prepared by Arnie Loyning's Portland-based race shop was installed. New bodywork and fittings were supplied by Peter Denty in the UK. Since the work was completed, the car has seen very limited track time.
In 2010, this Type 69FF was offered for sale at the Exceptional Motorcars and Automobilia auction presented by Bonhams. The car had been estimated to sell for $45,000 - $55,000 but was unable to find a buyer willing to satisfy the reserve. It would leave the auction unsold. By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2010
If there was one racer in the Formula One paddock that drivers and spectators alike believed should have scored his first victory before the start of the 1969 season it would almost unanimously be Jochen...